St. Timothy's Pipe Organ

How it works

A pipe organ is a musical instrument that forces air through an assortment of pipes made of wood and metal. The pipes cause the air to vibrate, producing sound. The highest pitches come from pipes the size and shape of a ballpoint pen while the lowest tones require pipes the size of a chimney. The tallest pipes in the St. Timothy’s organ measure sixteen feet. The pipes, the mechanical wind supply, and the air reservoir are in the loft high in the south chancel over the vestry.

The organist controls the pipe organ from the console on the north side of the chancel, near the door leading to the sacristy. Our console has three keyboards with 61 keys each, called manuals, played by the organist’s hands and a pedalboard with 32 pedals played by the organist’s feet.

The organ pipes

The pipes in the loft are arranged in sets called ranks. Each rank has one pipe for each note. The organ has many ranks; each one produces a specific timbre or quality of tone. Wooden pipes sound different than metal ones. Some pipes force air across an opening like a flute while others have a vibrating reed like a clarinet. The pipe's diameter, whether it's straight or tapered, the shapes and sizes of openings, and whether the pipe's ends are open or stopped all affect the timbre.

When the organist draws a particular organ stop using the draw-knobs on each side of the console, the pipes in one particular rank in the organ loft will speak when the corresponding keys or pedals are depressed. Drawing several stops at once creates a chorus of individual ranks all speaking at once, just like the individual instruments playing together in an orchestra.

A rank of pipes that speaks at pitch is known as an 8' (eight foot) stop because that's the approximate physical length of the tallest pipe in such a rank. Draw any 8' stop and when you depress Middle C on the manual, you'll hear a Middle C.

Physics tells us a pipe half as long will speak an octave higher and a pipe twice as long will speak an octave lower. Applying this principle, if you draw a 4' stop and depress Middle C, the sound you hear will be the C an octave above Middle C. A 2' stop will speak two octaves higher. Likewise, if you draw a 16' stop and depress Middle C, the sound you hear will be an octave below Middle C. A 32' stop will speak two octaves lower.

Stops called mutations introduce additional intervals. The Swell Organ's Nazard 2 2/3' stop speaks at an interval of an octave plus a perfect fifth. Depress Middle C and you'll hear a G in the next octave up. Meanwhile, the Tierce 1 3/5' stop speaks at an interval of two octaves plus a major third. Depress Middle C and you'll hear an E in the second octave up. Seldom played alone, these stops usually are added to regular stops to create an elegant, haunting tone.

Stops called mixtures consist of multiple ranks of pipes, including some mutations. The Great Organ's Fourniture IV stop and the Swell Organ's Mixture IV each sound four pipes for every note depressed. Like mutations, individual mixture stops are seldom played alone. Instead, the individual pitches blend to add brilliance to other stops.

A hybrid instrument

Our pipe organ is a hybrid instrument. In addition to the ranks of acoustic organ pipes in the loft, some stops activate virtual ranks of digitally sampled sounds generated by electronic components. This allows us to have a much greater variety of stops than traditional organ pipes alone could provide, not only due to cost but also because of the physical space required for acoustic pipe work. For example, while the tallest physical organ pipe at St. Timothy's is sixteen feet, the Pedal Organ features two virtual stops that generate the powerful floor-shaking vibrations of acoustic pipes thirty-two feet in length.

The St. Timothy’s organ includes a virtual antiphonal organ housed in two cases at the rear of the nave above the west doors. In addition to the sounds emanating from the organ loft, the organist can cause some of the virtual pipe ranks to speak from the back of the church.

The designers worked carefully when crafting the instrument to ensure the acoustic and virtual ranks blend seamlessly. Even from the console it’s difficult to discern which stops are which.

The 1969 J.C. Hallman Organ Co. pipe organ

The original pipe organ, which remains at the core of the current instrument, was designed, built, and installed in 1969 by the J.C. Hallman Organ Company of Kitchener, Ontario. The organ was dedicated on Sunday, October 26, 1969. St. Timothy's Assistant Priest Rev. Robert R. Bonis, also a prominent Scarborough historian, wrote a hymn especially for the occasion.

Now with Joy Let Us Adore Him
by Rev. Robert R. Bonis
Composed for the Organ Dedication Service
Sunday, October 26, 1969

Now with joy let us adore him,
God is in this holy place,
Source of all earth's wondrous music
Mid the stars in silent space,
Nature's countless choirs of beauty,
Birds at dawn and thundering seas,
Poets' songs and great musicians'
Rich resounding harmonies.

Giver of the joy of hearing,
Tune our hearts to know your voice;
Free from ancient fears, let all of us
In your world of sound rejoice:
Speak in lightning, storm-swept mountain,
Avalanche and roaring fall,
Soft spring rain, ripe wheat awhisper,
Lake at sunset, wild loon's call.

Crown of all creation's wonders,
You have shaped our mind and speech
To reveal your heart in music
Far beyond birds' highest reach:
Let your being burn within us,
Cleanse our hearts and lips with flame,
Make us living words of beauty
Singing forth your glorious name.

Master lover of all music,
Single note and symphony,
Hear our whole-heart dedication
To all God-born harmony:
Pipes in one great artist's organ,
Each responsive to foot and hand,
Instruments in God's high service,
Send us singing through the land.

The two-manual and full pedalboard console was divided into three divisions: Great Organ, Swell Organ, and Pedal Organ. The Great Organ was controlled by the lower manual and the Swell Organ by the upper manual. The Swell Organ was enclosed in a box with wooden louvers, much like window blinds, that could be opened or closed via a foot pedal on the organ console. That allowed the organist to vary the volume and timbre of the instrument without adding or subtracting stops.

A major renovation in 1997 added new electronic controls to the console and enhanced the Pedal Organ.

The 2013 redesign

In 2013, a significant redesign by Robert Smit Keyboard Services Inc. under the supervision of organ builder Michael J. Donovan and St. Timothy's organist Norman Reintamm saw a consolidation of the acoustic components, the design and installation of the virtual components (manufactured by Westacott Organs), the addition of the antiphonal organ at the back of the nave, and the replacement of the Hallman console with a reclaimed three-manual, full pedalboard console.

The replacement console had been built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts, and still bears the maker's trademark. However, none of the sound-producing acoustic or virtual organ works were manufactured by that firm, only the console cabinet, controls, manuals, and pedalboard.

The instrument was rededicated on Sunday, September 8, 2013. The commemorative plaque on the east side of the console reads:

8 September 2013

The refurbishment and enhancement
of this Organ was made possible through generous gifts from the
family of Helen and Max Barnett (1928-2011)
and an anonymous donor.

"Besides theology, music is the only art capable
of affording peace and joy of the heart." - Martin Luther

The result is an instrument well-proportioned to the physical size, space, and natural acoustics of St. Timothy’s, with a robost complement of individual stops voiced in an English Cathedral-style, and great flexibility in accompanying everything from the most delicate liturgical moments to the grandest triumphant hymns.